Tuesday night before the Cincinnati Reds game began against the Chicago White Sox, manager David Bell announced that Luis Castillo will take the mound on Opening Day. Since being called up in June of 2017, the 26-year-old right handed has posted an ERA of 3.89 in 259.0 innings for Cincinnati. Last year his ERA ballooned up to 4.30, but after the calendar flipped to May, he was the same old Luis Castillo as he was in 2017, essentially. In those 141.0 innings after April ended his ERA was 3.57 and he struck out 141 batters with just 36 walks.

He’s had some struggles this spring, but as fellow Redleg Nation writer Jason Linden will be sure to tell you on twitter, on the Redleg Nation Radio podcast, or probably from a megaphone on the streets – spring training stats do not matter. He’s not wrong, either.

Three of the other four spots in the rotation were also named. To the surprise of no one, Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark, and Anthony DeSclafani will also be in the rotation and follow Castillo in that order, according to C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic.

The fifth starter spot has not been announced yet. There is a spot open, at least early on in the year, because Alex Wood is not ready to take the mound just yet due to a back issue that tightened up on him the day after his last start. Tyler Mahle is likely the favorite to get the nod – no one else remaining in big league camp has made more than two starts. Lucas Sims, who was on the mound for Cincinnati on Tuesday night, has an ERA of 8.10 on the spring and threw just 2.2 innings in the game. Mahle, by comparison, has an ERA of 3.60 with 2 walks and 14 strikeouts in 10.0 innings. (cue everyone telling me that Jason said spring stats don’t matter and I agreed with him)

Depending on exactly how the team feels about when Alex Wood could return, they could also give a few starts to Michael Lorenzen to begin the season. That would potentially allow a little more flexibility in how the roster would shape up for the first few weeks of the season. That is, if the Reds wanted to go that route.

37 Responses

  1. Matt Hendley

    Or…*disappointed cough* this is a set up to try an opener. And really, saying that st stats dont matter and then quoting them. Lol had to get it in

    • vegastypo

      The only time I actually heard David Bell talking about the use of an “opener,” he was pretty dismissive of it. … That doesn’t mean the Reds wouldn’t use a “bullpen game” if need be. With Derek Johnson as pitching coach, the Brewers did it a few times last year — even in critical situations. But I can’t imagine that would happen this early in the season.

      I like what Cossack said (below) about maybe giving Lorenzen a start. That would be interesting.

    • Doug Gray

      While they don’t matter, people still want to know what they are. So I included them.

  2. Shchi Cossack

    The Reds won’t need a 5th starter until Saturday, 4/6, and won’t need a 5th starter again until Wednesday, 4/17. The start on 4/6 against the Pirates would seem tailor made for Lorenzen to take the hill. By 4/17, Wood should be ready to assume the 5th starter role.

    • WVRedlegs

      I think Wood is going to slot in at #3 when he returns. I recall Bell said something about breaking up the righties. But that was before Wood went down. So that may no longer apply. That said, I’d be surprised if it isn’t #3 or #4.

      • ToBeDetermined

        Since every SP is a righty other than Wood it wouldn’t matter where he slotted. Once Wood pitches you get 4 righty’s then a lefty.

  3. Steve Mancuso

    Again, ERA is a lousy way to evaluate a pitcher, especially when many far superior metrics are just as easy to find. But if you’re going to look at ERA (which you shouldn’t) don’t cherry pick individual months to tell a narrative. It’s amazingly unreliable.

    Look no further than Luis Castillo in 2018.

    Narrative one: Castillo had one bad month. If you exclude April, he pitched well the rest of the season, 3.57 ERA.

    Narrative two: Castillo had one good month. If you exclude September, he had an ERA of 5.07.

    Both of these statistics are accurate. Both are misleading. That’s the nature of ERA, especially in tiny samples like single months.

    Castillo’s 2018 xFIP was 3.69 and SIERA was 3.85. The latter is why professional projection systems have him around 3.90 ERA this year, not 3.57 or 5.07.

    • Rich H

      Fair enough, though I think I’d discount the month the kid from the DR was pitching in 40 degrees and precipitation before I discounted September. I know the batters have play in it too, just my two cents.

    • Mason Red

      It’s probably a good thing to discount ERA with this team….

    • Scott Gennett

      Me neither, bet on Gray to take that spot

  4. CFD3000

    I would have been surprised if Bell chose someone other than Castillo or DeSclafani for the Opening Day start. Unless the new guy is Tom Seaver, it’s tough to send someone who isn’t recognizable as a Cincinnati Red to the mound after all the ceremony. And really it’s incredibly unlikely that it will matter whether Castillo starts first, third or anywhere but fifth in the rotation. If they’re healthy, he, Grey, Wood, Roark and Disco will all get 30 starts. I’m fine with this choice. Can’t wait for next Thursday!

  5. JasonH

    Marty said something during the game last night about how he wasn’t sure that the kid was mature enough to handle the responsibility of pitching opening day in Cincinnati, because opening day is a big deal in Cincinnati. Maybe I am naive, but it seems like a completely ridiculous thing to say. Either he is good enough or he is not. Looking forward to the radio broadcasts in 2020.

    • Gaffer

      Here here!

      Unless it’s all the long slow droll of Jeff Brantley for 9 innings.

  6. gusnwally

    I guess Marty thinks that Castillo ( or any other player) does not go out and give thier best each and every time. But, you should try real hard on opening day. Other days not so much. It sort of reminds me of some car bumper stickers. Like I was planning on smashing into that car in front of me. But then I saw that it contained a baby. Or maybe show dogs. So I decided to drive carefully.

  7. Stock

    Spring training stats are meaningless is a false statement. They have no impact on Joey Votto. They have no impact on Mike Trout.

    But Tyler Mahle’s performance this spring is very relevant. Shawn Kemp is hoping his ST stats are relevant. Derek Dietrich’s stats are very important. If he has an OPS of .100 he does not make the opening day roster. If he has an OPS 1.400 he is in Cincinnati on opening day.

    And results is not as important as performance. If Mahle gives up 3 run’s on 4 IF hits and 2 bloopers Bell is fine. If he gives up 0 runs and over 2 innings he walks 3 and all 6 outs are ropes Bell begins to look for alternative 5th SP.

    • David

      Yes, Spring Training stats can mean everything to a player on the margin, or a player who might be on the cusp of the ML from AAA ball. The stats tell one story, and actual eyes on the player in question tell another, or reinforce the statistical values on a player.
      Eugenio has not had a good spring, but he will be the starting 3rd baseman for the Reds. Still questionable who will start in CF, but to me it looks like Scott Schebler. Senzel is still learning the position and has not hit that well in ST. For a couple of reasons, he may start in AAA and then come up in late April or early May, especially if he is scorching the ball in AAA.

      • HoF-13

        I imagine it’s not about ability or trying hard – it’s about harnessing emotions, about trying too hard. If you listen to Brantley, who I would say knows a little about pitching, trying too hard, being too amped up is the real danger. I listened to the broadcast — Marty wasn’t saying he didn’t have the ability. In fact, he said in terms of pure talent, he is probably the most talented starting pitcher on the staff. It was about controlling the emotions which is a legitimate question in my opinion.

      • Doug Gray

        The point is more that spring training stats don’t actually give you any insight into how the player will perform when the season starts. Just because some teams make decisions based on them doesn’t change that. The idea that spring training should decide roles is crazy. For players in an actual competition for the job, teams have years and years of information on these guys. Why on Earth would they use 35 at-bats, or 12 innings to override all of that? Short of a pitcher throwing 99 when they used to throw 91, it doesn’t make an ounce of sense.

      • Steve Mancuso

        This should be the motto of the site, in big flashing letters.

      • Roger Garrett

        Its about the salary and the back of the baseball card.The guys making the decisions on who makes the team can use spring stats anyway they choose.A guy can be all world in the spring and be sent down for a number of reasons or can be terrible and start on opening day because of my first sentence.Problem I always have had with it is all teams do it even the ones that are in rebuilding or are not expected to compete.Spring training has become just a formality to get guys their work in and hope they don’t get injured.It is fun for us though cause we get to lobby or discuss who should or who shouldn’t.Even as bad as we have been for the last few years their will be few if any surprises.

    • Doug Gray


      I don’t even care about anything else in this reply except that. I’m just seeing highlights of him dunking on everyone in my head right now.

      • Indy Red Man

        John Wooden, Larry Bird, and Oscar Robertson. Kemp is somewhere down the line as well. We know a little bit about hoops in Indiana:)

  8. WVRedlegs

    Baseball is weird sometimes.
    “The Royals are sending Ian Kennedy to the bullpen. They’re giving Homer Bailey a shot in the rotation.”
    That wasn’t expected.
    Royals paying Kennedy $16.5MM to be a reliever. And they are paying Bailey $560k.

    • Indy Red Man

      Awesome! Now I can parlay Arrow Boys long losing streaks into $$ without feeling any guilt

      • LWBlogger2

        We are all going to feel really, really baseball IQ deficient when/if Bailey has a very nice season with KC this year. Well, everyone except perhaps Steve M, who as a big fan, has always believed in him.

        I’m not a big Homer Bailey fan but the velocity was there last year, the splitter had moments of being really good, and Homer was relatively healthy. I would be surprised but not “shocked!” if Bailey had a solid season in KC’s rotation and pitching in that ballpark.

  9. Old-school

    C Trent has a surprising article up at the Athletic on 25 man roster. He predicts Nick Senzel starts in CF opening day.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Interestingly, he also predicts Schebler and Ervin being optioned to Louisville, along with Reed, Romano and Peralta. He predicts Wisler and Stephenson will make the team as the seventh and eighth relievers. Essentially, if C Trent is correct, the Reds front office will be using remaining options on other players as the way to preserve holding on the rights to Wisler and Stephenson, and creating a starting spot for Senzel. (Also, someone will have to come off the 40-man roster to get Senzel onto it if he does indeed make the team.)

      • Steve Mancuso

        As of now, I don’t think Senzel has proven to be better than Scott Schebler at CF. Senzel hasn’t walked once in 35 plate appearances, for instance. That said, while I think it would be a mistake, it wouldn’t shock me if the front office gives in to public fascination and announces Senzel as the starting CF for Opening Day. However, I think it’s extremely unlikely the front office will send *both* Schebler and Ervin to the minors, as Rosecrans predicts, and turn over CF entirely to a guy who has such limited experience. I’d be shocked at that, especially given the good springs that Schebler and Ervin are having and how that plays to the public.

      • matthew hendley

        I think extremely unlikely is an understatement. I think this is another attempt at expanding the Athletic subscription. Senzel is going down, He has had an opportunity to prove himself and gotten out produced. While there is a validity to ST stats not being the end all, there is a valid point of using ST stats to decide whether or not to give up an extra year of control. Schebler is not going down either. He has done too well, and Is a LH bat on a team with a growing number of RH batting outfielders. On the pitching front, I can see any one of the three names going down, I can also see all three names staying up in the Pen. Wisler and Stephenson must realize they are on the shortest leashes imaginable, more so with bob Steve.

      • Old-school

        When Schebler is healthy , he’s a big bat. He hit 30 HR in 2017 and in his prime. Im Senzels biggest fan but can’t see how you can learn CF in 6 weeks in ST games and having never played outfield and having never played at the major league level. But, the roster crunch is real. Someone’s not playing . Maybe a trade still to be made?

      • Shchi Cossack

        I’m very skeptical of C. Trent’s reliability in this situation. I believe whole heatedly that he’s just expressing an opinion rather than having inside information. We all have opinions. The final roster decisions and reassignments sounds like an excellent topic for the next ‘The View of the Reds Farm from the Old Recliner’.

  10. Scott Gennett

    Ervin, Puig, Kemp and Schebler avg clip: 329/458/769. Sort of a murder’s row.

    • Shchi Cossack

      The abysmal HR output (172) from the Reds last season (9th of 15 NL teams), while playing half their games in GABP and a third of their remaining games in the NLCD, was a driving factor in acquiring Puig and Kemp during the off season. That would lend credence to loading the lineup with power.

      The unreliably small ST sample:

      Schebler=> .429/.606/.762 (1.368 OPS & 0.333 ISO)
      Ervin => .361/.439/.861 (1.300 OPS & , 0.500 ISO)
      Puig => .361/.410/.778 (1.188 OPS & 0.417 ISO)
      Kemp => .324/.378/.676 (1.055 OPS & 0.352 ISO)

    • Shchi Cossack

      Not a murderer’s row, a murderer’s lineup:

      #1 Schebler (CF)
      #2 Votto (1B)
      #3 Kemp (LF)
      #4 Puig (RF)
      #5 Gennett (2B)
      #6 Suarez (3B)
      #7 Peraza (SS)
      #8 Barnhart (C)

  11. Old-school

    The NL central has some strong young pitchers. Jamison Taillon is at the top of that list and was chosen by the Pirates over Chris Archer as Opening Day starter. I actually like the Reds matching the Pirates by elevating Castillo. It’s just one game, but the Reds are giving him that spotlight and opportunity to beat Taillon on Day 1. If the Reds are to be good, Luis Castillo will be part of that equation.